When the public gets to take a peek at the Georgia Tech basketball team for the first time Saturday night, it will see a team in a hurry.
The Yellow Jackets have been running since the minute Josh Pastner walked through the doors at McCamish Pavilion, and they haven’t stopped yet. They run during practice, they run from station to station, they run for loose balls. You name it, they run for it.
It’s part of the emphasis on conditioning that Pastner has placed on players in the program, a part that he sees as essential for the upcoming season. Ideally the team will run about four miles in a typical practice.
“I want us to play with great pace and play fast and play downhill and play in attack mode,” Pastner said. “Maybe for our personnel this year is maybe not the best thing for it, but for how we want to establish our culture and what we want to do, we need to do that this year. So we want to play up-tempos, we want to be in attack. I really believe in conditioning. We’ve got to be in great shape.”
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It will likely be evident starting with the exhibition game against Shorter at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“We run a lot,” Pastner said. “For us to have any chance, we’ve got to be in great shape and play with great up-tempo pace.”
The players wear even heart monitors in practice. Then the staff looks at the data and can determine whether a player expended enough effort or did enough sprinting during practice.
“Guys have to leave the court to the weight room with pace,” Pastner said. “They’ve got to leave the film session to the court with pace. Everything is pace. We move from one drill to the next with pace. It’s about pace, about play with that confusion, you’ve just got to figure it out sometimes.”
Effort will be rewarded, too.
Pastner said last week at Operation Basketball in Charlotte that playing time for the Shorter game will be partially determined by how players fared in getting 50-50 balls in practice. The effort required there will be considered when it comes to doling out minutes in the game.
The Yellow Jackets will be without point guard Josh Heath. The senior is serving a suspension that will cause him to miss the first four games of the regular season. That could mean more playing time for Corey Heyward or an opening for Justin Moore, a slender 6-foot-4 freshman who originally signed with Tulane.
The exhibition will also be an opportunity to see other freshmen Josh Okogie and Christian Matthews, as well as graduate transfers Kellen McCormick and Jodan Price. Forwards Sylvester Ogbonda and Abdoulaye Gueye are back after sitting out last season as redshirts.
The opening game of the regular season will be at 8 p.m. on Nov. 11 against Tennessee Tech.